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Where has all the music gone? How podcasts have taken over my ears

September 18, 2017 Leave a comment

The Dublin Podcast festival runs from 19 to 30 September and I’m looking forward to taking in a couple of shows beginning on Tuesday night with Criminal and the Memory Palace at Vicar Street.

 

Over the last few years Podcasts have slowly pushed new music out of my life. Gone are the days of listening to music around the house, as the spoken word has mostly stepped in instead. Now live shows for me aren’t gigs in the Olympia but live recordings of podcasts in the Sugar Club, The Irish Times Office on Tara Street or the Liberty Hall Theatre.

 

Music is squeezed into background noise when reading a book but the soundtrack to breakfast, the lunchtime stroll and cooking dinner is 99% Invisible, the Off the Ball Football show or Tales from the East Stand.

 

The Friday night drive to a match is spent trying to squeeze the last of the League of Ireland podcasts in. A Sunday run in the Phoenix Park is with the latest episode of An Irishman Abroad. I’ve even been known to appear on a podcast – The Extratime.ie Sportscast.

 

So many podcasts and so little time and so my podcast App of choice is Overcast. With their smart speed option shortening silences, the App tells me I’ve saved 103 hours since I began using it. If you really want to you can “show the number of unfinished episodes on Overcast’s icon to add stress to your life” but I chose not to.

 

With all this and the podcast festival in mind, I kept a record of what I listened to over the last week. So read and listen on if you want some recommendations on sport, politics, Trump and the wonderful world of design – you may have to sit through some ads for Blue Apron, Square Space and MeUndies.

Monday 11 September

A mixture of sport and US politics are on the podcast menu as I start the week as I mean to continue.

 

The Cycling Podcast is a weekly show covering the professional sport. However, during the three Grand Tours they do daily shows from the Giro, Le Tour and Vuelta. The very knowledgeable contributors Richard Moore, Lionel Birne and Daniel Friebe give great insight into the pro ranks. They also have a monthly Podcast Féminin show covering the stories from the women’s peleton.

 

I also subscribe to their Friends of the Podcast series which for just £10 gives you brilliant bonus episodes on a monthly basis. Some topics this year were 15th Time Lucky (How Aussie Mat Hayman won Paris Roubaix), 1987 Giro according to Stephen Roche (I came away thinking Roche was one sneaky cyclist!) and Inside the team-car with Cannondale Drapac (a dramatic day on the rod on an Alpine stage in the Tour).

 

The New Yorker Politics and More Podcast show hosted by Dorothy Wickenden across its weekly 20 minute episodes looks to discuss the major issue in American politics of the week.

Tuesday 12 September

I’m a big fan of Second Captains. Their two episodes on Monday are free but for content across the other midweek days, you must join me and the other 8,300 or so patrons behind their Patreon paywall. The monthly subscription is $5 plus VAT with exchange rates at the moment works out at €5.67. Well worth it for the wide range of topics covered by “the boys who never go home”. However Ken Early’s monthly political podcast alone is worth the money. You also have the option of dropping out for a month which I did in July as there wasn’t any live football to discuss and I wanted to avoid wall-to-wall GAA.

 

I dip in and out of Crooked Media’s Pod Save America which is a “no bullshit conversation about (American) politics”. The show is hosted by a merry band of former Obama staffers – Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor. This week’s episode was superb as they had 45 minute interview with Hillary Clinton. The former US Presidential candidate was ubiquitous this week across all American podcast platforms – she popped up on my feed from NPR and Longform. However her best interview was later on in the week – see Saturday.

 

Wednesday 13 September

By the middle of the week, the podcasts are beginning to drop quickly into the playlist including two of my favourites.

 

99% invisible is worth listening to just for host Roman Mars’ marvellous mellifluous voice. The show covers the topic of design in short weekly 20 minute episodes. Some classic episodes are Sound of Sport and Structural Integrity. There is loads of great content on their website too.

 

Another US political podcast but this one is a bit different. The West Wing Weekly is an episode-by-episode discussion show of the Aaron Sorkin’s US hit TV show from the 2000s. You watch an episode a week and Joshua Molina (who starred in the show in the latter years) and Hrishikesh Hirway (Song Exploder – see ‘Best of the Rest’ below) dissect it in detail with actors and writers from the show. They’ve just finished season three so “What’s next?”

 

Thursday 13 September

You don’t have to be a Hoop to enjoy Tales from the East Stand but it helps. Gary Parsons and Karl Reilly take a sidewise looks at all things Shamrock Rovers each week. It is required Rovers listening. Check out the Pat Flynn monthly madness episode, I’m sure Cristiano Ronaldo has had a listen to it.

 

If the American 2016 election had been positive in any sense, it has been to raise my knowledge of politics in the US. While we might have President Bartlett over on The West Wing Weekly, we counter balance that with Donald J. Trump on Slate’s Trumpcast. With episodes every couple of days, the 20 minute show covers the Donald in great detail include a review of Trump tweets read out hilariously by John Di Domenico.

 

Irish Independent sport journalists Johnny Ward and Daniel McDonnell host the LOI Weekly hour long podcast. They could just as easily end up discussing Johnny Dunleavy’s love life and the North Korea situation at Bray as well as the usual relegation discussion.

 

Friday 14 September

I’ve subscribe to Slate Plus which for $30 gives me add free episodes across the whole range of Slate podcasts. There is also bonus content on podcasts such as the excellent weekly Political Gabfest with David Plotz, John Dickerson and Emily Bazelon.

 

The Off the Ball Football show is one I sometime listen to live on Newstalk or pick up the best bits on Podcast. The show during the week on the Clough Revie rivalry and their famous BBC interview was brilliant radio.

 

Saturday 15 September

If you want to know what the hot topic on Joe Duffy was during the week, then Playback is for you. The show goes out on RTE Radio early on Saturday morning but the podcast is always up quickly and showcases the wide range of excellent content covered by the national broadcaster during the week. It is thankfully a George Hook/Ivan Yates/Paul Williams free zone.

 

They’ve recently split The New Yorker Radio Hour into two shorter shows. This week’ first episode was a beautifully short episode on origami while the second one was an interview with Hiliary Clinton. Amazing to hear her talk about her personal dealings with Vladimir Putin.

 

Sunday 16 September

The Irish Times Worldview this week was also covering American politics with an interview with former Barrack Obama speech writer Cody Keenan. Some weeks you can be in China, other week’s Venezuela or maybe France.

 

And finally Jarlath Regan’s An Irishman Abroad is a great way to round out a week of podcast listening. Regan’s large range of interviews are with the great and the good of Irish sport, music and drama. You’re a cold person if you can’t listen to his show about donating a kidney to his brother and not have a tear in your eye!

 

 

Best of the Rest

The Irish Times Inside Politics – Damien English was on this week so I gave it a skip.

Off the Ball Panel Show – Usually a cracking listen unless it is a GAA panel.

Off the Ball Paper Review – A look across the Sunday’s sportspages

Song Exploder – Listen to musicians take their song apart and piece by piece tell the story of how it was made. Check out: The National – Sea of Love

WTF with Marc Maron – Take deep dive into the back catalogue of interviews. The Barack Obama one is brilliant!

 

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Posters, Posters, Posters – everywhere!

February 13, 2016 2 comments

Did you wake up one day earlier this month, open your curtains and be confronted by a general election candidate staring in your window? Okay, not an actual candidate but maybe a poster of them hanging off a lamppost outside your house? The answer for many is yes.

Go outside your door since last week and it is a sea of posters that confronts you. Posters, Posters, Posters. Everywhere. Most people hate them but for this political anorak they are a wonder!

 

Election Called

Being part of a political family means I’ve been involved in a fair few election campaigns and poster battles. As Enda stood up in the Dáil to tell us the other week he was off to meet Michael D in the Park, I got a text from my Mum saying “Election called, your country needs you”! Since I was on holidays I wasn’t able to answer this initial Ireland’s call and for the first time since 2002, I wasn’t up a lamppost on the day the election was called.

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Arriving back into Dublin later in the week, I was like a kid venturing out into freshly fallen snow, looking in wonder at the election posters on the lampposts as I came from the airport in Dublin Bay North, into Dublin Central and into Dublin South Central. I tried to take in the picture perfect poster blitz on the journey!

 

From cardboard to corriboard

I’m old enough to remember the old school election poster which was printed on stiff cardboard, generally with just the names of the candidates for that party. A heavy spell of rain and these would soon be on the ground.

 

Nowadays the posters are printed on corriboard and cost around €6 a pop. In a previous election one party had the corrugations vertical and with a heavy gust of wind they would concertina dropping to the ground. Stability is the key for the election poster and horizontal is more stable! The name and address of both the printer and publisher of the poster must be visible – usually in the smallest of fonts!

 

They are printed with holes pre-punched top, bottom and middle on large posters to allow cable ties to be strung through to fix to lampposts. I favour a back-to-back poster arrangement but some candidates have posters with writing on the back with their party name or candidate name.

 

Candidates typically will put up maybe up to 1,000 large posters and maybe a couple of hundred smaller posters later in the campaign – often diamond shaped posters – hence the larger number up on the lampposts at present and the race to get them in good positions once the election is called as space is limited.

 

The rules

The relevant local authority polices the posters during the election. They shouldn’t go up before the election is called, although a number of candidates jump the gun at every election including #ge16. Rules stipulate that they cannot be erected on traffic lights, bridge parapets, and on poles with traffic signs. They should be placed more than 2.5m above ground. There is also no canvassing within 50m of any polling station on polling day so having a poster up directly outside can often break this rule. If you go for a quick walk around your area, you will probably see each of these rules broken multiple times!

 

If posters were to be done away with the advertisers would likely welcome it, as candidates would likely end up taking out expensive billboard and newspaper adverts. Maybe people would go with some USA style small posters on their lawn rather than on lampposts.

 

 

Do posters work?

On the canvass there is a marked difference in reaction from the voter when an ordinary canvasser calls to the door and when the candidate does. The voter will often snap to attention as a candidate seemingly descends off the lamppost, to stride up and stand on their doorstep asking for a vote on election day.

 

If the election goes well, candidates can get elected on the first count but the majority under our single transferrable vote system of proportional representation get elected from transfers. Those number 2s, 3s, 4,s etc are vitally important.

 

Since 1999, the Irish ballot paper has photographs of each candidate with party logos added following the publication of the Electoral Amendment Act (2000).

 

The changing constituency boundaries also mean that posters give voters a good idea of who is running in their area. So basically each candidate is essentially marking their territory on lampposts!

 

Having branded your constituency with posters for weeks, candidates are hoping that it will help the voter to pick them out of a very busy ballot paper and help get them over the quota in the later counts.

 

 

 

 

Post-election poster removal

When election day is over the posters need to come down within seven days. There was one campaign I was involved in where some of our posters were removed by persons unknown ahead of polling day, only to magically re-appear more than a week after the election with some €150 fines to follow :(.

 

Losing candidates can’t take their posters down quick enough while some victorious candidates will affix a “Thanks” sign on their posters!

 

Certainly the winning candidates are more likely to leave their posters up as long as possible basking in the glory of a successful election campaign!

 

No man’s land

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve taken to cycling home along the Liffey this week to see if I can spot the man living in the Liffey. I haven’t spotted Fergal McCarthy yet but his island with his tent and two trees is still floating in the Liffey as part of Dublin’s fringe festival. If you haven’t seen it yet get down to have a look before it floats away on Sunday 25th.

For more see here: http://fergalmccarthy.blogspot.com/

Docklands developments – of sorts

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple of interesting sights in the Dublin Docklands last week.

On the south docklands for the last week or so, a timber creation was being developed in Grand Canal Dock. The strange construction turns out to be a desert island being constructed as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival. Seems like Dublin will have a new one bedroom apartment except this time it will be a floating island with its creator Fergal McCarthy living on it during the festival.

“After the huge success of last year’s LiffeyTown, artist Fergal McCarthy returns with a new art installation in 2011. A desert island will appear overnight in the midst of the Liffey. ” More details are available on the festival’s website (http://www.fringefest.com/event/no-mans-land) and Fergal McCarthy’s blog.

The two island halves being brought through Grand Canal Dock

Liffeytown (2010 Fringe Fest)

Meanwhile in the north Docklands, it wasn’t ‘crane watch’ but ‘piling rig watch’ last week as the site behind the Namaland Anglo building had a couple of piling rigs working away. What construction project was starting in the north Docklands site? Were our flailing construction and property businesses getting a timely boost? Well not quite. It isn’t a high spec office, hotel or housing development but the pumping station for the area behind the convention centre beginning construction.

View from Upper Mayor Street

No cranes remain

Macdara Ferris: “‘And when the Celtic Tiger saw the breadth of her collapse, she wept, for there were no more cranes to see.’ Benefits of being a Die Hard fan.”

This week saw the removal of the last crane in the Docklands. The south quay site off Green Street, where State Street occupies one quarter of the site, had its crane removed during the week.

The view from northside looking to the south quay with three cranes (May 2011)

View from Grand Canal Dock with State Street foreground, Nama/Carroll's/Anglo Building in background and no cranes to be seen (July 2011)

Hans Gruber: “‘And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.’ Benefits of a classical education.”

Crane Watch

Crane Update:

No cranes left on the northside

The last cranes left in the docklands sit south of the liffey above unfinished basement off Green Street


The last cranes left in the docklands sit south of the liffey above unfinished basement off Green Street

Categories: The Political Wing Tags: , ,

Dude, where’s my crane?

Sitting at my desk I have a good view of a few of the Celtic Tiger developments. Looking over my left shoulder I can see Lansdowne Road Stadium (aka The Aviva, The Palindrome or The Dublin Arena for next week’s Europa League final). Over the top of my screen, I have Alto Vetro, the top of the Grand Canal Theatre and can make out the top of the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Samuel Beckett Bridge

On my right are my own personal weather vanes with the abandoned cranes over some of the unfinished Docklands developments. As the cranes are left swing free in the wind, they let me know which way the wind and hence the weather is coming.

Back at my desk today, I noticed a bit of movement to my right and a new temporary crane was popping over the adjoining building. This was at work dismantling one of the cranes on the infamous Liam Carroll development on the north of the Liffey. This had been ear marked to be the brand new headquarters for Anglo Irish Bank. But somewhere between bankrupting the country and forcing us to lose our economic sovereignty, Anglo never made it there. Carroll’s companies lie in Nama and the Anglo building lies derelict surrounded by abandoned cranes. Well by tomorrow it looks like the cranes will be gone, maybe the receiver got a good price for them – let us hope so.

View from East Link Bridge towards IFSC

Temporary mobile crane in foreground

Two workers climb up to help dismantle final crane


Crane ballast being lifted off (1of3)

Crane ballast being lifted off (2 of 3)


Crane ballast being lifted off (3 of 3)